Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo
Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo operated in the tricky political climate of Mexican California and did his best to position his province for maximum benefit to its population. Born in Monterey in 1807 to a prosperous ranching and commercial family, he rose through the ranks of the Mexican military in California. Vallejo tried to navigate between his pragmatic political belief that California would prosper from an association with the United States and his duty to far-off Mexico. By 1844, Vallejo effectively became neutral regarding the tensions mounting between the two countries, believing that U.S. annexation would be inevitable and even desirable.
When the so-called Bear Flag revolt occurred in 1846, American insurgents raided his Sonoma ranch, seized military and private property, and held him as a prisoner at Sutter’s Fort. When U.S. forces secured California, Vallejo returned to his ranch and renewed his business and commercial activities. Eventually, the United States partially compensated Vallejo for his losses during the war.
The U.S. government appointed the influential Vallejo as Indian agent for Northern California. He also served on the state constitutional convention in 1849. Afterward, Vallejo remained active in state politics, but challenges to his land titles around Sonoma eventually left him impoverished and reduced his ranch from 250,000 acres to a mere 300. He eventually retired from public life, questioning the wisdom of his having welcomed the American acquisition of California in the first place. Vallejo died in 1890, a symbol of the eclipse of Californio wealth, power, and prestige.